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Posts Tagged ‘trees and shrubs for birds’

Two days ago, a small flock of bluebirds visited our backyard. They spent a few minutes flitting around near the house, then headed straight for an old, berry-laden Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) growing by the creek. Today, with a blanket of snow blocking access to seeds and whatever else is available among the leaf litter, the red cedar’s berries are a valuable source of food form all manner of birds that visit our yard.

Juniperus-virginiana-berrie
Above: Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Since this is also the season of garden catalogs and seed-starting, the bluebirds got me to thinking whether or not there were more plants I could add to the landscape to feed birds over winter. Sweet summer fruits like blueberries and blackberries are gobbled up as soon as they are ripe, and often before that, so they are not available to birds in winter. Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) bear bright red fruit that is quickly consumed in fall by both birds and squirrels. The same is true of fruit borne by spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana): Birds relish the berries, and they are gone long before wintertime. The best winter food stays on the plant until there is little else that birds will eat. Staying on the plant is important, because that means the fruit is still visible and available even if the ground is covered with snow, as it is today.

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